Sunday 9 February 2014


Description: This proposal is organized around the theme of disability related to mobility issues through the use of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting The Beggars (The Cripples), a short video by Claire Cunningham, a multi-disciplinary performer and choreographer based in Glasgow, and a short animation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland. The Visible Thinking routines used are Compass Points, and Headlines.

Level: Intermediate-Upper Intermediate
Learners: All ages
Theme: Disability
Language: Disability related vocabulary, can/can’t
Skills: Acquire vocabulary for talking about disabilities and ableism, watching 2 short videos, exploring various facets and sides of disability, talking about stereotypes, summing things up and coming to some tentative conclusions
Materials: 2 short videos, painting slide, statements slides, worksheet

Warm up
Brainstorm your students around what they can or can’t do. Conclude that for each one of us there are things we can and things we can’t do.

Step 1
Show your students the picture below and ask them what they think the woman in the picture can or can’t do. Keep a visible record of students’ answers.
Step 2
Tell your students that her name is Claire Cunningham, and she’s a multi-disciplinary performer and choreographer whose work is initially rooted in the use of crutches. Through them she explores the potentiality of her specific physicality as a disabled individual, and aims to challenge conventions around classical aesthetic and dance. Tell them that they are going to watch a relevant video. Show the video.

Step 3
Work as a whole class. Draw a compass in the centre of the board or on a construction paper and mark E, W, N, S. 

Provide students with the following prompts to talk about:
E = Excited
What excites you about this idea?
W = Worrisome
What do you find worrisome about this idea?
N = Need to Know
What else do you need to know or find out about this idea?
S = Stance or Suggestion for Moving Forward
What is your current stance or opinion on the idea?

Keep a visible record of students’ responses in the appropriate direction: E, W, N, or S. Students’ responses are recorded for the entire class to see so that they are enabled to build on each other’s ideas. 

Step 4
Show your students Pieter Bruegel’s painting and ask them:
What have the picture and the painting got in common?
How are they different?
The Beggars (The Cripples)
Step 5
Show them the slide and ask them to match key words about disability with their definitions.

Step 6
Organize your students in groups. Hand out the worksheet and ask them to classify the words in two groups: words that reflect dignity and a positive attitude towards disability related to mobility issues vs. words that are hurtful or offensive. Go round the class and help with vocabulary if needed or advise students to look up unknown words in the dictionary. Allow 20 minutes and get feedback.
Step 7
Write on the board: Stereotype. Explain to your students that it is grouping individuals together and having thoughts, beliefs or judgements about them without knowing them. It is the product of ignorance or unfamiliarity. Explain that stereotyping is not only hurtful, it is also wrong. 

Step 8
Tell your students that they are going to have a look at some slides involving both stereotypical and right ways to think about people with a mobility disability. Show your students the slides below. Pause at each slide and discuss which case it falls into. Ask individual students to read the statements in the slides. 

Step 9
Ask your students:
What problems might persons with disability face?
What are their rights?

Tell your students that they are going to watch a short animation video from the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Show the video.

Step 10
Hold a plenary discussion on the rights of disabled persons mentioned in the video. The right to…choose support for independent living/work/equal access and participation to education/be free from violence/have their voice heard/access sport, culture and leisure /decide where to live/who to be in a relationship with/who to live with/have access to information.

Step 11

Discuss the idea that disabilities are in society and in a lack of accessibility, rather than in the individuals themselves. 

Step 12
Ask students: If you were to write a headline for this topic or issue that captured the most important aspect that should be remembered, what would that headline be? Let students expand on it creatively or by writing a newspaper article on the theme.   

I hope you find this proposal worth experimenting.

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